Two thirds of Dutch called in sick due to personal stress

More than 80 percent of people in the Netherlands struggle with stress caused by financial problems, divorce, a sick parent, or a fight in the work place, according to Zorg van de Zaak. This type of stress often leads to absenteeism at work. The organization is therefore launching a campaign to draw more attention of the psychological and physical consequences of stress, and to break through the taboo of speaking about it, NOS reports.

Zorg van de Zaak is a network of occupational health and safety services and companies that focus on addiction care, debt counseling and reintegration. The organization spoke to over 1,100 Dutch about 'life course stress', as it is called in the campaign. 

Over two-thirds of Dutch have been absent from work because of this type of stress, according to the network. The most common cause was the death of a loved one, a parent or a family member. Financial problems and the informal care of a sick loved one came in second and third place. Other causes mentioned include a seriously ill parent, divorce, and job loss.

"A fifth of the people called in sick at work without saying it was because of private problems", Zorg van de Zaak director Marja Sleeuwenhoek said to the broadcaster. "Apparently it is a kind of taboo." As a result, many bosses and managers do not know what is going on with their employees. "It is important, for example, that directors and supervisors show genuine interest and pay the right attention to employees. That starts with regular questions: how are you doing? That's how they stay better informed of what is going on."

Zorg van de Zaak hopes that its campaign, titled 'Do you know what's going on?', will make it easier for employees to discuss their personal stress with their employer. "Think of high work pressure, starting psychological or physical complaints, or problems at home. A good and open relationship with employees makes it easier to discuss things. If talked about in time, if the taboo is broken, that can prevent a lot of absenteeism."